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Guinea holds 17 members of opposition over journalist death

12 February 2016, 08:40

Conakry - Seventeen members of the Guinean opposition were arrested on Thursday over the death of a journalist who was shot during clashes outside their offices, their lawyer told AFP.

Guinean authorities opened a probe into the killing of El Hadj Mohamed Diallo, who died last Friday after being shot in the chest during clashes outside the headquarters of the Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG).

News organisations marked an unprecedented "press-free day" this week to honour the 33-year-old and draw attention to the risks journalists take working in the West African nation.

A lawyer for the UFDG party, Salifou Beavogui, said 17 of his clients were being held in a police station in the capital Conakry, criticising their arrests as "hasty and premature".

Also Read: At least 15 dead in southeast Guinea bus crash: authorities

"They have been questioned and re-questioned. They have been called back frequently since Tuesday. And after all the coming and going, it was on Thursday at 1600 (GMT) that they were arrested," he told AFP.

All of them are part of the UFDG's civil guard, which is tasked with maintaining order in the party and ensuring the security of its leader, former prime minister Cellou Dalein Diallo.

"They are all activists from the UFDG but they are not armed, they have their muscles and nothing more," Beavogui said.

The violence started when a protest over the removal of UFDG's vice president, Amadou Bah Oury, escalated into clashes with security guards when shots were fired.

Both Bah Oury and the party have blamed each other for the unrest, but Beavogui said the government's murder investigation has only been targeting supporters of Cellou Dalein Diallo.

"We are worried about procedures being followed, because we see the inquiries are focused on one camp, even though there should be an investigation into both sides," he said.


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